This exercise is based on forming of associative elements into new combinations.  The more mutually remote the new combinations, the more creative the process or solution.
You are presented with three words and asked to find a fourth word that is related to all three.

For instance, what word do you think is related to these three words?    paint    doll    cat
      The answer in this case is house ... house paint, dollhouse, and housecat.

How about these three?    stool    powder    ball
      The answer is foot ... footstool, foot powder, and football.

Now, how about these sets of words?
(Click on each "The answer is ..." box to see the correct associative answer.)
1)  call pay line
2)  end burning blue
3)  man hot sure
4)  stick hair ball
5)  blue cake cottage
6)  man wheel high
7)  motion poke down
8)  line birthday surprise
9)  wood liquor luck
10)  house village golf
11)  plan show walker
12)  key wall precious
13)  bell iron tender
14)  water pen soda
15)  base snow dance
16)  steady kart slow
17)  up book charge

If you were able to answer all of the above within five minutes, youíve demonstrated above average creative thinking abilities.

Now, letís see how you do with a more difficult problem.  How are the following objects related?
cannons footballs gears potatoes shoes  

To solve this formless problem, you have to think in totally different, even bizarre ways.  For instance:
  Do the words share any features in spelling or pronunciation in common?
  What do you associate the objects with?
  What do they have in common?
  Where do you find them?
  Do they have any parts in common?
  Are part of something else, the human body, for example?

They represent parts in common (parts of the human face).
      Cannons have mouths.  Footballs have noses.  Gears have teeth.  Potatoes have eyes.  Shoes have tongues.

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